What advice would you give to your younger self or to those just starting out in their fundraising career?
Develop a culture of cultivation; rather than a transaction culture. Think how your strategies can be as personal as possible. Craft the best case for support and continue to tell your story Stay updated on ever-dynamic technology, which is central to achieving the fundraising cycle, today. Have fun! Enjoy the opportunity of developing new and lasting relationships. Be thankful you are doing something purposeful as a career.
- Focus on learning skills that make your organization better — leadership, strategic planning, collaboration, financial management — these skills will make you a better fundraiser
- Be authentic — donors do not expect perfection but expect authenticity
- Do not be afraid to ask
Oh so many things …
- Be willing to take risks.
- Say yes to new responsibilities, challenges, experiences and volunteering that make your career and life better even when you doubt yourself.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help and use your resources (people or things) — no one can do their job alone.
- Be innovative, willing to pivot and think outside the box.
- Don’t be overly confident than you know everything because you don’t and you won’t — keep learning especially from experts, senior leaders, mentors and success stories.
- Trust your intuition (trust and verify).
- Celebrate your successes!
- Have fun and enjoy what you do, who you do it with and why you do it.
- Be yourself, especially with donors — they can see right through insincerity.
- Bring your A Game every day and remember, Progress Shall Mark Your Every Step!
Patience — follow the plan and it will work out.
To have faith, particularly as a woman … we are great fundraisers … we just have different approaches…
- Be creative.
- Find a mentor.
- Learn all aspects/channels of fundraising.
- Practice, practice, practice.
- Be genuine.
Run ? Don’t be afraid to be you. In the field of fundraising, if it’s not your passion – find something else or someplace else. It’s a hard enough job without being “all in.”
Develop your mantra. Talk to everyone you can — use all the knowledge and resources available from others. You don’t always have to figure things out yourself. And then, at some point, you just have to do the work.
Listen Listen Listen! Ask open-ended questions to find out more. Listen Listen Listen! Know your “product” inside and out. Make the connection and tell a story. Mostly — Believe in yourself. Feel and share the spark of helping someone make a difference in the life of another.
Pay attention to the details and focus on building relationships. Persistence will pay off and trust is easily lost and difficult to regain.
Be prepared for getting to know donors extremely well (like family) and learning some difficult things about them. I have had donors share with me such personal things as divorce, business failure, health concerns and terminal illnesses (many times before family and friends even know). I consider it a significant responsibility to maintain donor confidence in both me and ZBT and that our relationship take priority over anything else, including a gift.